Boardroom Socks was born out of a desire for better dress socks, when our founder could no longer find quality American-made dress socks. What had happened to the comfortable, well-fitting, durable socks that he had relied on for years?

Unfortunately for anyone who enjoys a good dress sock, the late 90’s and early 2000’s saw a big shift from American sock manufacturing to sending the making process overseas — often resulting in less expensive but significantly less reliable socks.

Today, that shift means that it’s much tougher to find a good pair of men’s cotton dress socks. But it’s far from impossible, and we’re doing our best to lead the charge in offering the best American-made cotton dress socks around.

In this guide, we’ll give you an insider’s look into what really makes our socks different from the kind you’ll find on the shelves of a big box store. That includes what you should be able to expect out of a pair of cotton dress socks (more than you’ve been getting, that’s for sure) as well as a deep dive into what type of cotton you should be looking for in your socks.

By the time you’re finished reading, we hope you’ll have a dress sock education that lets you choose with discerning taste every single time.

how cotton dress socks are made infographic

What A Pair of Men’s Cotton Dress Socks Should Offer

For about two decades, one of the members of the editorial team here at Boardroom Socks thought that he just really didn’t like cotton socks. It seemed like they never offered a snug fit, got damp way too easily, and their colors washed out after just a few uses.

But after trying a pair of Boardroom Socks, it turns out that what he actually didn’t like was wearing low quality cotton dress socks. When they’re made well, a pair of cotton socks should offer all of the following qualities:

Moisture Wicking

When treated with respect in the manufacturing process, natural fibers like cotton offer excellent moisture wicking properties. This means that as your feet sweat, the material of the socks should pull that moisture away from your foot and towards the outside of the sock, ready to be evaporated.

High quality cotton dress socks can do this no matter how thin they are; lower quality ones will trap the sweat next to your feet and get soggy in a hurry. And the nicer the quality of the cotton that’s going into your socks, the more natural comfort and padding you’ll experience, too.

Refined Fit

There are very few feelings more irritating than constantly having your dress socks bunch up inside of your shoes, all while they’re falling down from around your calves. If your men’s cotton dress socks are doing this on a regular basis, it’s time to revamp your sock drawer!

A really well-made sock should never fit this way. They’re meant to have a snug (but not overly tight) fit, with a hardy enough construction to stay up all day long. That’s true no matter which dress sock length you choose.

Color Options

And if all of the above criteria are met, you’ve found yourself a darned good cotton dress sock! It’s natural, then, to want a few color options to complement whatever outfits you want to wear.

High quality cotton dress socks have excellent color retention thanks to their higher quality (read: more expensive) dyes. That means they’ll stay true to their color throughout the life of the sock, giving you more good wears and a better overall return on your investment.

colorful cotton dress socks for men on a table

The Secret of Great Dress Socks: Extra Long Staple Cotton

So here’s the real trick: It’s not just about how socks are being made — though careful attention to detail is a big part of what makes for a great dress sock. It’s also about what the socks are made out of. And in the case of men’s cotton dress socks, the difference comes down to the short staple versus long staple cotton that’s used to make them.

  Short Staple Long Staple Extra-Long Staple (ELS)
Quality Low Better Best
Cost $ $$ $$$
Hand Moderately Soft Softer Exceptionally Soft
Durability Moderate High Highest
Dye Retention Moderate High Exceptional Colorfastness

(We should note here: In the cotton industry, there are technically three classifications. Short, long, and extra-long staple cotton have specific measurements associated with them. For the sake of editorial brevity, we’ll simply refer to them as short and long staple cotton. But to get really technical with you, all of our socks are made from the highest grade extra long staple cotton.)

No, we’re not talking about the metal staples that hold your papers together. In the cotton business, staple length refers to how long the individual fibers that come out of a cotton boll are. And that depends on the specific type of cotton that’s grown and turned into cotton textile.

Shorter staple cotton comes from varieties of cotton that are generally easier to grow and easier to harvest. That means it’s more profitable to grow per pound — but that comes at the cost of offering less comfort, durability, and moisture wicking qualities.

Long staple cotton, then, is much less commonly used since it’s more expensive to care for and produce. That’s why it only accounts for about 5 percent of the world’s cotton supply, and often comes with “trade names” like Egyptian cotton, Pima cotton, or Sea Island cotton.

So why is longer staple cotton better for dress socks than shorter staple? Well, each pair of socks is composed of thousands of individual fibers of cotton. And what makes a pair of cotton dress socks feel “silky” is having fewer fiber ends, creating a smoother surface. The longer the cotton fibers, the fewer ends — and the finer the feel of the material.

brown cotton dress socks for men

Cotton vs Merino Wool Dress Socks

After extolling the virtues of cotton dress socks for men, we’d also like to quickly answer one of the questions we hear guys asking all the time: What is the best material for dress socks, cotton or merino wool?

We’ve taken the time to answer that question in some detail, in our guide to the best material for dress socks. Briefly, there’s no one “best” material for socks; it really comes down to how you want to use them, and especially which season you’re wearing them in. Hop on over to that guide to get the full rundown.

Our Recommendations

We’re proud to offer what we think are some of the best cotton dress socks in the world. It takes a lot of time, effort, and attention to detail to make a truly great pair of socks, and we hope that you’ll agree that Boardroom Socks are worth every penny.

Shop Cotton Dress Socks

Further Reading...
What are the best dress socks for men?
Why do my dress socks fall down?
How to match your socks, shoes and pants.

Editorial Staff
Editorial Staff

Our editorial staff is comprised of menswear experts dedicated to providing you with helpful information. Sharing everything from style tips to sock care instructions, these gentlemen are a wealth of knowledge for both our customers and the Boardroom Socks team.

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